Team Ico Talks: Fumito Ueda on The Last Guardian, Shadow of The Colossus

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Fumito Ueda is a name well known to most PlayStation fans. After directing the iconic PS2 games Ico and Shadow of the Colossus, Ueda-san fast became one of the most celebrated figures in international game development. Now he’s working on a new game, the boy-beast buddy adventure The Last Guardian. If you missed the new trailer released one week ago at the Tokyo Game Show, you can watch it below.

While in Tokyo, I had the pleasure of speaking with Ueda-san about The Last Guardian and his upcoming PS3 compilation Ico and Shadow of the Colossus Collection. I knew that getting a lot of firm details about a game as enigmatic and ambitious as The Last Guardian would be no easy task, so I decided to focus my questions on learning more about how the game plays, its core mechanics, and nuances I spotted in the trailer. Ueda-san’s replies provide a rare glimpse into one of 2011’s most intriguing games.

Sid Shuman: How would you describe The Last Guardian to somebody who had never seen it before?

Fumito Ueda, Director, The Last Guardian: It’s not a pet game, but there is a live animal in the game. I would describe it as an adventure game that you play with this animal.

TGS: Fumito Ueda InterviewTGS: Fumito Ueda Interview

SS: Will you control the boy, Trico, or both?

FU: You can only control the boy.

SS: What can you tell us about the boy? Does he have a name? Is he on a quest of some sort?

FU: The boy does not have a name…yet. The goal of the boy is to escape from the location you see in the trailer.

SS: Judging by the video, Trico appears to be be a powerful force in combat situations. Is there a combat element to The Last Guardian? How does it work?

FU: As you saw in the video, Trico is able to defeat an enemy with one swipe. So in that sense, he functions as a guardian of sorts. But the boy is unable to defeat the enemies on his own — that’s the gameplay element involved.

SS: What can you tell us about the enemies we’ve seen in The Last Guardian? In the trailer, they appear to almost fall apart like statues…

FU: I can’t give you any details about the enemies. But I will say that they are not acting fully out of their own intentions.

SS: Is Trico the only creature of that size in The Last Guardian’s world?

FU: Again, I can’t give you any specific details. But there may be something like that out there…

TGS: Fumito Ueda Interview

SS: Shadow of the Colossus was known for its unusual control scheme. Will The Last Guardian follow suit with its controls, or will the controls feel familiar to players?

FU: The actual method of controls and button layouts have not been decided yet, because it doesn’t take much time to change the control scheme. But because we’re using the theme of an animal for The Last Guardian, I also want people who are not serious game players to try out this game. So I want the controls to be simpler than before.

SS: Many game journalists — and even the entry on Wikipedia — have described Shadow of the Colossus as one of the best examples for video games being an art form. How does that make you feel? Do you agree?

FU: I’m happy about it, I’m flattered. But I wonder what part are they are referring to when they make that comment, that it’s art. What part are they looking at? Because I think it’s possible to make it even more artistic. But because it’s a video game, those possibilities have been subdued somewhat — it’s a game. So I’d be interested to know what part, exactly, they mean when they refer to it as art.

There are games out there that are much more artistic than Shadow of the Colossus. And personally I also believe that it would be possible to make it even more “arty,” so to speak.

Ico and Shadow of the Colossus Collection

SS: What other games do you think represent a good argument for games as art?

FU: I guess it depends on how you define art, of course. But in a Japanese conception of the term “art,” it’s thought that it might be something that’s difficult to understand, or complex. Or something unique or uncommon.

So given that definition of art, maybe it’s a little detrimental to actually name any titles.

SS: You were asking why so many people name Shadow of the Colossus as an example of art. I think many people would answer that it’s because players begin to sympathize with the Colossi…

FU: So it makes you think — I understand.

Comments are closed.


14 Author Replies

  • Art must move you, and that’s what Shadow of the Colossus really excelled at.

  • SS: What can you tell us about the enemies we’ve seen in The Last Guardian? In the trailer, they appear to almost fall apart like statues…

    FU: I can’t give you any details about the enemies. But I will say that they are not acting fully out of their own intentions.

    I got chills when I read this.

  • I loved Shadow of the Colossus never got to play Ico unfortunately, it was one of those hard to find games.

    The Ico collection is properly the best gaming news this year beats mass effect 2 PS3 announcement also more than makes up for Last Guardian delay ;-)

  • I can’t wait to play this. It looks amazing so far. I also can’t wait for the Team Ico collection since I never had a chance to fully experience Ico or SotC.

  • I’m surprised that the blog would send sid to interview this icon, even though he hasn’t finished his games. That’s kinda disrespectful.

  • Ico is in my top 5 games of all time. I played the demo to death and when the actual game launched I was in awe. Ico was just a dream come true. I cannot wait to experience TLG…I think Ueda’s mind works exactly like mine.

  • I know someone who never finished SoTC right away because they didn’t want the game to be over. The idea that there is something more wonderful to finish on his game shelf compelled him to never finish it. Sort of like rationing out the game for a period of time instead of beating it in one shot, and then what? The game goes back on your shelf. I understand not wanting to rush through a Ueda game. But i have to admit it’s hard to understand why someone would admit not completing the game in the same page they are interviewing the creator of the game.

    But anyway, When Ueda says they could have made it “more artistic” he pretty much won me over for life. The man is a true artist. Some people are born to do it.

  • That’s like the longest Ueda interview ever!

  • Spring is still pretty far away, I think I’m gonna pull out my old PS2 and play SoTC.

  • @Sid:

    Thanks for the reply. I definitely agree with your passion for Team ICO’s work. My copy of PS2 ICO is a jewel in my rack. As a gamer, though, I am just far more interested in the creative process and the nuts and bolts of putting these things together. The end experience speaks for itself. Leave the artistic questions for some academic somewhere.

  • Dont get me wrong I love both these games but you guys need to put up some Project Dark videos

  • Very interesting interview ;-D

    Specially the questions about the controls, the possibility of other ‘Trico’/other species like him/her.

    I ever thinked that Ueda’s age was about 20-30 years :-P

  • I feel like one of my dreams will come true!!!! Finally ICO and SoTC on PS3!!! And I can’t wait for TLG either!

  • It’s definately gonna be another great game. Ico and Shadow were great pieces of art that showed us that you can have deep emotional investment in characters that barely talk. Sure, you play the games, but art is meant to evoke something from all the senses, it’s about interacting with it in some compacity. Drawn art you look at, food you taste, and music you listen. Games make you look, listen, and feel something on the inside. If that’s not art then, well I don’t want to know what else is then. :P

  • It’s Aang and Appaaaaaaaa…….

  • I’m so looking forward to playing this games. All Ueda`s games are so epic and truly envolving that I’m almost sorta desperate to play The Last Guardian.

    But I’ll have to wait more than a year long ahahhaa. That’s alright. it’s gonna be all worth it.

    ps: Can’t also wait to play SotC and Ico Collection!

  • I can’t wait to play The Last Guardian! I have both Ico and Shadow on PS2 and I will definitely be getting the new PS3 3D HD release of the games! I hope they take the time to really add HD detail to the textures and keep the character models the same but add a little more detail geometry to smooth out the edges. As a CG artist myself I know that is a lot of work.

    I wonder if they will take the time to fix some of the bugs like when Ico’s stick goes through the wall and through Yorda?

    Art is conveying beauty and immersing the viewer in a visual and emotional experience. By that definition I believe there is no doubt that these games classify as art!

    Speaking of Art I agree with the comments from the earlier post in that they really need to make a better box cover for the ICO/SOTC re-release! The USA Ico cover sucked big time!
    I want it to look something like THIS cover:

    That is awesome!

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